Sunday, December 12, 2010


First real snow of the year (a week or so ago it was spitting snow, but nothing accumulated, other than along the edges of the car windows).

Right now, we've got an inch or so outside. So, it's a good thing that I bought a snow shovel yesterday, and that we put up the Xmas lights today.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas traditions

So far, as a family, we have one tradition of our own (not involving Parental Units, etc.). For the past few years, we've gone to see the tree-lighting ceremony at Shelter Insurance. They do it up pretty nice: the local news sends a camera truck, there's a choir and band from a local school, Santa Claus, the whole bit.

The weather was nice this year, relatively speaking, but I thought we might not be able to go. El Burrito got hit with what seems like a rebound of the ear infection he had before Thanksgiving, and spent most of the day in bed. But we started the antibiotics today, and that plus a solid dose of ibuprofen perked him up enough that he wanted to see the tree this year. So I bundled him up and we drove to Shelter.

We saw them putting the tree up on Monday, I think. It's fake, breaks down to a metal frame and maybe a dozen sections of "tree" so it goes up pretty swiftly.

This year the lights are all clear.

They advertise the ceremony as starting at 6:00, and they aren't kidding. We were headed back for the car at 6:05 (we didn't stand in line to see Santa, since El B. is sickly today). Better to get there early than on time, because you might miss it.

And then we came home, tempted El Burrito's appetite with a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's, and he napped on the couch some more. We passed the time watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on the new DVR, which is already almost full. Highlights: the pizza-twirling drill team, the Sesame Street float, and the balloons of Horton, Buzz Lightyear, Snoopy, and Kermit.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall is here

Fall is here in full force. The key indication is that my living room is chock-full of houseplants right now, thanks to a freeze warning tonight. Three boxes have already been moved to the new house, mostly the amaryllis and a few others. The amaryllis aren't going to bloom this Christmas, since I forgot to head them towards dormancy back in September. I'll just have to feed them up for a while and try next year. Maybe, if I put a note in my dayplanner, I'll actually remember to stick them in a closet next fall.

For the past month or so, it's been hazardous to stand under any nut-bearing tree in the area. It's a bumper year for the pin oak crop - the ground outside under our pin oak is about 50% covered with acorns. A few weeks ago, every time the wind blew it sounded like a hailstorm as acorns were plinking off the metal roof of the carport. The shagbark hickory trees at the preschool playground were worse though - the nuts in the hull are about the size of a golf ball, and they come down with some energy. I've seen a few hit the ground hard enough to bounce a bit, and sometimes the hull will split as they hit.

No plant casualties in the area from the recent winds, but I did see a flowering pear casualty on the way to preschool this morning. It had just tipped over into a parking lot, no roots showing at all. They're pretty trees and they grow fast, but they're notoriously weak when it comes to wind, root systems, or dropping random limbs. I've heard of flowering pears falling over at the hint of a breeze. My sister had a large-ish pear tip over onto her Mustang a few years back. No wind, the tree just fell over. Luckily the car wasn't hurt, but it's still kind of freaky.

Unluckily, the tree shading most of our deck at the new house? Flowering pear, about 15 years old, which is about the time they start getting iffy. This one is in the lee of the house, so hopefully it won't fall over anytime soon, but one of the tentative plans for next year is to replace it with something a little sturdier. As part of that plan, we're going to pick up a few quarts of Bud's acorns (yes, the tree has a name) and try to sprout some. Part of those will go to family members who could use a few good trees too - I may be biased, but Bud has a very nice shape, is healthy, turns a lovely orangey-yellow color in the fall, and sounds very peaceful in a slight breeze. Trust me, if he wasn't 30 or so feet tall, I'd be sorely tempted to dig him up and move him to the new house.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Furniture shopping

We've been doing a lot of furniture shopping lately, since we currently have practically nothing, and what we do have is old and decrepit. Certain things, like the 15-year-old mattress with escaping springs, and the sprung-seated loveseat, aren't coming to the house. Instead, they're getting a one-way trip to the landfill. Which leads to the furniture shopping.

Mattress shopping isn't the worst, oddly. Once we rule out memory foam, tempurpedic, and anything more than a foot thick (because I just got sheets that I love), there's not a lot to decide between. We may have found the right mattress tonight. We also found a nice table and chairs. Solid oak chairs, and they're heavy. Built to last, I guess. I lusted briefly after the hickory-top table, but the construction was iffy and the chairs were lousy. The one we like has a nifty butterfly leaf - it folds, flips, and self-stores under the table. Beats stashing the leaf under a bed and forgetting where it is.

No pictures, the camera batteries were dead.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Funny stuff on TV

First, Sesame Street's spoof of the Old Spice commercials.

Grover is one of my favorite Muppets.

Second, Chuck last night. Or maybe I was the only person who got the homage to my late, lamented Firefly, when the Generalissimo unveiled his statue of Captain Awesome.
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The end of house-hunting

The Great Never-Ending House Hunt is over!!! Bought a house this week, and managed (I think) to surprise our families.

It's a bit bigger than we were aiming for, but the back yard is amazing, it's a good neighborhood, and we got a good price on it. I'll have quite a bit of gardening work to do, though - the recent owners had been there 2 years, and were not garden/yardwork people, it seems. Daylilies planted in the shade under the deck, something that wants to be a tree also growing under the deck, irises growing under a spruce tree (literally under - low-hanging limb). Too bad it's so late in the year, I think it might be too late to move the lilies and irises this fall. Have to Google that, along with ways to keep the deer from devouring the hostas.

I'll also have to deal with way bigger utility bills (as far as square footage, it's 4 times the size of the current place), along with a bigger insurance bill. Condo insurance is seriously cheap, being just a bit more involved than renter's insurance. The jump in price from a condo to a 4x bigger house with a deck and everything is a pretty good chunk of money. Time to adapt, and get more serious about careful shopping and saving energy. First plan is to put CFLs in all or most of the light fixtures, which should at least make a dent in the electric bill.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Can I get a refund?

Three hours at preschool today.

"Did you have fun today?"


"What did you do?"

"Things that I like."

"Like what?"

"Just things that I like."

Okaaaaay. After 20 minutes of grilling while we walked, I learned that he had a cupcake at snacktime (someone's birthday), he sang a song that he can't remember, and he had his picture taken (which I knew already).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Giveaway on another blog

I just entered a giveaway contest on another blog:

That Reisenthel bag looks beyond nifty. It would be a cool thing to win, and if not, I may be tempted to buy one from

Friday, September 17, 2010

Target's clearance

I do like finding things in Target's clearance stuff. This week, it's been school supplies mostly.

First trip:
binder 1.5 inch .74
binder 1.0 inch 1.24
sandbox toys .50 x2
workbooks .50 x 11 - 2 crayola, 3 reading, 4 pre-k same/different etc, space, dinos
100pk post its - .50
clear index tabs - .48
Pooh Snow Days color book .50
dry erase placemats .50 x 3 - printing, cursive, games
dry erase poster sets 2.48 x2

I went on a quick trip today for more of the dollar-spot workbooks for El Burrito (he needs a little practice and some self-confidence with writing and drawing), and got:

dry erase posters 2.48 x 2
sandbox toys .50 x3
1.5 inch binder .74
workbooks .50 x5

The dry-erase posters are from Crayola. I got two plain and two with lines for writing practice. I've got plans of putting these on a wall or a table, and letting El Burrito decorate them. They're supposedly removable/reusable, and they came with 3 Crayola Dry Erase Crayons each.

The sandbox toys were a must-have, since there's a house in the near future, and of course a sandbox soon after that.

Wish I'd gone back yesterday, most of the pre-K workbooks were gone. I lucked out and found 3 in the regular-price stuff, and only one left with the clearance books. The rest were all older levels.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Strange conversation

Got shanghaied into a very strange conversation at the book sale on Sunday. Started as random chitchat over the lousy selection of DVDs that were left, and ended up with an older gentlemen giving a monologue to me about journalism and random conspiracies. He's a self-proclaimed expert on the Amish, subject of a show on the local PBS station, former journalist for a big paper in Hartford CT, and blacklisted author who's written 22 books with 2 in progress (which seems contradictory). His theories include that the CIA assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. and have it on video, and that Sonny Bono was murdered to prevent him leaking information about some drug trafficking with Bill Clinton and George Bush the Elder.

I managed to hmm and "oh really" for a few minutes until he was distracted by something, and then I quickly moseyed the other way. I heard him talking out in the hall a few minutes later, still about Sonny Bono's death.

And I thought the guy walking around at the sale talking to himself was odd - he was saying "oh boy" and similar phrases, but not in a "wow, that's a good book" way. More of a "can't believe they're selling this" way or something. Plus, body odor. Common at book sales, where it mixes with the old-book smell.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I've got Eeyore and a moose in my freezer!

or, Today's Yard Sale Haul :)

(Yes, there's a plush Eeyore in the freezer, along with the moose - kill any dust mites or whatnot)

The church where El Burrito's preschool is was hosting a fundraiser rummage sale today, so I stopped in after I dropped of Mr. Crying El Burrito. I got the following stuff for only $6 total:

  • Plush reindeer (for me)
  • Plush Eeyore, with tags (okay, also mine)
  • 4 clay plant saucers for $1 - would have bought the clay pots, but they were nested and stuck together :(
  • Metropolitan Museum Of Art hieroglyphic stamps set (too cool) for $1
  • mini-van for El Burrito's dollhouse 25c (after I remove the batteries)
  • Lizzie McGuire DVD $1
  • 2 other books
  • tiny Eeyore figurine
  • watercolor paint set 25c
  • whole bag of craft stuff for $2

There were a couple of pattern booklets, one new skein of baby yarn from Bernat, 4 or 5 partial skeins, a new roll (word?) of crochet thread in sage green, a partial roll/skein/ball in white, a pack of 5 darning needles, and 5 steel crochet hooks in assorted sizes. The hooks alone were worth the $2 price, even if a couple of them are tiny enough that I'll never be able to use them (unless I can crochet my own hair - they're that tiny).

I'll have time to hit a couple of local yard sales on Friday mornings now. Whee!

One week down, 40 or so to go

El Burrito (aka Bob the Builder, since April - and yes, he introduces himself as Bob) has survived his first week of preschool.

The first day was actually the easiest, or at least the most quiet in terms of morning fuss. He's a fretter and worrier, which he gets honestly, mostly from my side of the family. Since the second day, he's been crying and questioning non-stop, starting even before he opens his eyes. How long is preschool, how long is three hours, school is too screamy, I don't like show and tell, my teacher isn't a good watcher, I don't like French, on and on and on, until I'm ready for earplugs. He cries from the car to the classroom, with the big big tears and everything.

But then, when I show up at pick-up time, he will barely bother to wave at me because he's too busy playing on their playground. Go figure. He's been singing in French, took a book for show & tell, and has started playing a bit. Still says he doesn't know anyone else's name in his class (6 other kids), and "can't tell" me the words he learned.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Neat finds at the book sale

Yesterday was the bigger monthly sale at the library, and in a happy coincidence (since El Burrito is going to French-immersion preschool), this month's theme was reference and foreign languages. I found
  • 3 very basic French textbooks (French for travel, that sort of thing)
  • 2 Latin textbookss and a Latin dictionary
  • an introductory book to Scottish Gaelic (bought it thinking it was Irish Gaelic)
  • some fun books for El Burrito - 2 Berenstain Bears, 101 Myths and Legends, and a book with the stories from 55 Disney movies (heavily abbreviated)
  • two Sci Fi books for DH
  • Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal for only $1.
  • 2 American Girl books to pass on to my mother-in-law, who gets them for the granddaughters
I also saw the second Harry Potter in Spanish, but it was $2 and I'd already found $25 worth of books, so I passed on it.

Interesting stuff. I've been wanting to learn Latin for a while, and regret not taking it while I was taking all my other Classic Civilizations courses in college. Now I've got a couple of books to at least make a start.


Day 2 of preschool today. Drop-off went worse than yesterday, actually - someone was leeched to my finger and wrapped around my neck until one of the teachers helped pry him off. More tears, too. But yesterday at pick-up time, he didn't want to leave. Playground time was just too much fun. (Not surprising, he does this at the grandparents' houses too.)

Morning half-day may have been a really good thing, although we didn't know it. He woke up worrying about how long school would be, missing us, school was "too screamy" and other things. If he was doing afternoon sessions, he'd be worrying himself sick all day.

And I still feel like a heel after drop-off today. I hope this gets better after a few days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Houses & Preschool

Update A: Signed a contract for the house today. If (knock wood) inspection and appraisal go okay, we'll be moving next month.

Update B: Finally heard back from the preschool. We're going for a school tour tomorrow, and if that checks out, El Burrito starts on Tuesday. Between the holiday and helping my brother paint his house, today may have been our last "normal" day for a while. Until the new routine becomes "normal" anyway.

I had three Tim Tams, and haven't hyperventilated yet. Doubt I sleep well tonight though.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pardon me while I panic

It's shaping up to be an interesting week (month?).

Put an offer on a house today. This is the second house we've made an offer on. Can I just say, "$250,000" and "a quarter of a million dollars" may be the same amount, but the second just sounds like more money.

And we're looking for a preschool for El Burrito. So far, our option is a morning half-day class (9 a.m. - noon) in a French-immersion preschool. First issue here: I know almost no French - maybe a dozen words, mostly related to horses (dressage, capriole, courbette). Second issue: that 9 a.m. start time means moving our whole schedule, including wake-up time, earlier by 3 hours. And preschool starts in a week. Cue the headache.

Plus, no more library storytimes, since they're all in the morning. And - unless we play hooky for a day - no "kids' tour" of the library next month, which El B (and I!) were excited about. I really need to ask why the storytimes are all scheduled in the mornings.

I'm off to find an ibuprofen. House + preschool = headache and nervousness.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August "garden" update

The garden, such as it is, is doing better than expected.

The 5 sunflower seedlings are now 2 surviving plants. "Mammoth" sunflowers do not prefer life in a not-so-big flower pot (say, 12-inch clay). They're growing more sideways than up, even after being moved to the sunnier back deck, but one has bloomed this week. Last year we got six stunted seeds from two plants; I wonder how well we'll do this year?

The 5 miniature bell pepper plants are going great guns. They apparently are okay with being in a 14-inch or so flower pot, and moving them out back agreed with them. They've been blooming like crazy, and last time I counted, there were 11 peppers in progress. Granted, most of them are marble size at the moment, but it's better than I'd hoped. They're a mix of green, red, and chocolate bells, I think, but I'm not sure which actually grew.

The pumpkins - miniature Jack Be Nimbles - are sort of iffy right now. Three plants survived, they seem marginally okay growing in a pot, and they're actually blooming a lot. However, the flowers are all male flowers so far - you have to have female flowers to get actual little pumpkins. And apparently I'll be hand-pollinating them if we ever get a female flower, since I doubt our neighborhood has a lot of squash bees or whatever. I'm wondering if they'll ever come up with a female flower, though. They've been blooming for 3 weeks, and the sites I read online said that usually you get male flowers for a week or so before the female flowers show up. I have fertilized them, since the pot's so small. Maybe they need more. Or less. Need to Google "pumpkins with no female flowers" or something similar. The wicked heat may also be an issue, since it seems that pumpkins don't like to set fruit when it's over 90 or so. Har - it's been 90+ here lately, heat indices over 100. I moved the pot into a shadier spot; we'll see if that helps. If not, I may have to buy a little pumpkin and tie it on to encourage El Burrito. Or call the peppers pumpkins and paint them orange.

The peppers are also not shy or subtle about saying "Water us!!" either. They go nice and droopy, sort of like my oxalis, but perk up within an hour of drinking. I've been watering every other day now, so they won't be stressed by the dryness.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A new line of experimentation

I've got something new to dabble in (like I don't have enough interests/hobbies).

Digital infrared photography. I've been thinking on it for a while, and finally ran across a cheap-enough digital camera of the model I was after (Olympus C-2020) on eBay. Older digital cameras of certain models are known for being better than others at infrared; newer ones, not so much, because of the newer designs.

Along with the camera ($22.99, it has issues with the battery door and came with no accessories, not even the lens cap), I bought an infrared filter from Hoya ($29.50 on Ebay) and then yet another camera case ($15ish, because decent cases for any camera larger than a deck of cards are hard to find). As luck has it, the filter will fit both adapter rings that I own, so if I want, I can take IR pics with 3 of my 4 cameras.

This is a pic from the 2020, taken in auto mode with no adjustments. I need to read the manual and figure out if it can do a custom white balance. I kind of like the purple/red tinge in the sky, though.

This is a picture from the SP-510, no adjustments. Lots of red there.

SP-510 picture with a custom white balance. Much better, although the 510 really needs a tripod to take a decent picture. The 2020 loses less light with the IR filter, so it can take a decent picture without a tripod.

Another picture with the 510, of my old horse barn.

El Burrito (from the 510). Blurry, but I like the shadow in the background mimicking his pose. Wish I'd had a tripod, or that he would have stood still a bit longer.

The tricky part is getting the photo files from the 2020 to the computer. The 2020 I have came with nothing - no lens cap, no cables, no manual, etc. Originally, it did come with a cable, but it's old enough that it was a serial port cable, not a USB. And the 2020 uses SmartMedia cards, which are pretty defunct these days - I'm not sure there are any card readers out there that read them. I know our HP printer, which does have card slots built in, doesn't have a slot for SMs. The work-around currently is to take pictures with the 2020, then swap the SM card into my semi-retired C-3020, which does have a USB cable, and transfer them that way. I have an old Lexar card reader with an SM slot, but I'm not sure it plays well with XP. That's something to look into, just in case the 3020 bites the dust.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wherein I scream "like a girl"

I screamed "like a girl" today - and that's my phrase, not DH's. It's not something I usually do - I've stomped my share of bugs and didn't hide in my dorm room when I was living in a dorm that averaged one visiting bat per year (although I'm still not a big fan of mice, or large spiders). I'm blaming my reaction on on the shock. Plus, it was on my shoulder! Much closer than on the floor.


We used our free movie tickets (from the Toy Story DVD/Blu-Ray upgrade deal) to go see Toy Story 3 today. Before the movie, I changed into "public" clothes instead of my bumming-around-on-the-weekend clothes. Went into the bathroom to wash my hands, and glanced into the mirror to see a Big BUG on my shoulder. I believe what I screamed would be spelled "aaaaiiaaaaiiaaaaiihhh!!!!" or something like that. I was dancing around our tiny bathroom swatting at my shoulder with a soapy wet hand. DH heard me on the other side of the condo, over the running water in the sink, and came to see what happened. El Burrito's reaction to Crazy Dancing Mommy was to make tracks away from me, losing a shoe as he went.

The bug disappeared, so DH and I were crammed in the bathroom looking for it. El Burrito came back to watch the fun. Then I saw it - crawling on my leg. Cue another round of the Crazy Dance as I tried to shake it off and step on it. Unfortunately, it disappears again, until El Burrito told us it was crawling on my (other) leg. Whereupon I jumped through the door, shook the Big BUG onto the bedroom floor, and stomped all over it.

The corpse was unable to be identified.

And then we finished getting ready, and left for the movies. I waited long enogh that Toy Story 3 wasn't in 3D anymore, but that's okay. DH and El Burrito saw it in 3D while I was in Florida. But geez, is Pixar getting a little depressing lately or what? Wall-E was kind of a sad background (no decent Earth left), parts of UP were tear-jerkers, and then we get to the beginning and end of Toy Story 3. Wow.

And of course, on the way home, we stopped at Target for some bug traps and spray. I can deal with bugs on the floor, but when they crawl on me, they've crossed the line. I haven't done those kind of moves in a while. Last time was either (a) when I reached into a dark feed bin for chicken feed and a mouse ran up my arm or (b) when I realized that one of those big black hard-shelled bugs was inside the jeans I'd just put on.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Just started a "Get Rid Of" box. Already in it: unwaxed dental floss and a little notepad. More to come.

In the trash: A Subway game ticket for an expired game, a bald cypress nut, and an expired tablet of Zyrtec (I think).

In the recycling: the scraps from the coupon sections of Sunday's paper.

I've been motivated/inspired by a couple of blog posts I found yesterday, about getting rid of one thing a day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kennedy Space Center

While I was visiting my sister in Gainesville last month, I convinced her to drive to Titusville and visit Kennedy Space Center. She thought it was a 2 hour drive, but then realized it was 3 hours, and almost backed out. We got a late start, and didn't get to Kennedy until noon, and of course it's wicked hot.

Welcome to Titusville. After Titusville, you drive across the Causeway to Cape Canaveral, home of Kennedy Space Center as well as a big wildlife preserve.

First look at KSC from the Causeway.

KSC Entrance. Behold my Holy Grail. We took the free bus tour first (next time, I'm planning to pay extra for at least one of the bonus tours. I want to get as close as I can to 39A and B.) There were three possible stops along the way - the observation tower for Launch Pads 39A and 39B, the Saturn/Gemini complex, and the International Space Station complex. I decided to skip the ISS section, figuring it'll be there for a while and we were short on time, and there are tentative plans to go back for one of the last shuttle launches this fall.

The Vehicle Assembly Building.

First stop was the observation gantry for Launch Pads 39A and 39B. View of Launch Pad 39 (A or B) from the observation tower's 4th floor. There was a good breeze on the catwalk, too. The road is the path that the crawler takes when it hauls the Shuttle to the launch pad.

Resident tortoise seen on the bus tour.

Next stop is the Apollo/Saturn V Center. First there's a stage presentation, then you get to see the control room and some exhibits. Out in the main room there's an actual Saturn rocket hanging from the ceiling. It's massive! This is the stage backdrop for one of the presentations. They lower a replica of the lunar lander down from the ceiling, and it looks pretty cool.

I touched a moon rock!! It's in a little block, you can stick your hand in to touch it, but there's not enough space to steal it or anything.

Astronaut Snoopy. One of the Apollo capsules was named Snoopy.

Control room from the Apollo missions.

After the bus tour, we went back to the main complex. We'd just missed the Hubble IMAX movie (Hubble images in IMAX and 3D! My brain would have melted. I've got plans for a mega-sized wall mural of a Hubble image someday. I drool over the Carina Nebula mural. Color would be awe-inspiring, but black & white would be pretty striking too.) So, we did some shopping and then went to the other IMAX movie, called Magnificent Desolation, narrated by Tom Hanks.

Last, we went outside to the Rocket Garden and the outdoor exhibits.

My sister's Vanna White impression.

Rocket Garden. Sister thinks "artistic" pictures are just ones you take at an angle.

The gantry the astronauts walked up to the capsules in.

The last thing I did before we left was visit the Astronaut Memorial. This is a lousy picture (blame the heat, I was tuckered out and the sun was bright at this spot). It's a big black wall with a mirror finish on it that reflects the sky, and it looks like the names are floating in the clouds. The three names in the lower center block are Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White. The other squares have names of other astronauts who've died over the years.

Souvenir pennies. I love the squash-a-penny souvenirs. Fairly cheap, don't take a lot of space. No practical use, but hey. The prices on these varied. I went with the 50cent models, but there was a nice one - Shuttle, I think - that I was going to get until I noticed that it was a $1 machine.

Leaving on the Causeway. We'd been there six solid hours, and were tired and hungry for some real food. Six hours on my feet is why I wore my New Balance shoes, no matter how unstylish my sister thought they were. Six hours of walking in a pair of her sandals that were too big for me would have ruined my day. No thanks.

Grissom Avenue in Titusville. (Proof my sister wasn't paying attention - she thought I was a CSI fan when I took the pic)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My trip to Florida

I took a weekend trip to Florida in June, to see my sister graduate (1). It was my first airplane flight alone, and I haven't flown that much anyway, so there was some stress. I woke up at 4 a.m. to catch the local shuttle for a 3 hour trip to the airport. Made it through security and got my carry-on into the overhead compartment. It was a small plane, with small compartments, so it took a shove or two to get it in. But I saved $30 on Delta's rotten checked-bag fee, so it was good.

I switched planes in Atlanta, where I found that the concourse shuttles aren't kidding when they say "hold on" during acceleration. Not a bad airport. I grabbed some lunch and found a postcard for El Burrito, but couldn't find a mailbox to stick it in. Finally landed in Gainesville, 15 minutes early and 11 hours after I woke up. Gainesville has a very small airport - 3 gates, in one room, and you can walk around the whole airport in ten minutes. No joke. Postcards were wicked expensive at $1 plus tax, and the stamp machine was similarly overpriced - 2 44-cent stamps for $1.50.

I was picked up at the airport by my favorite sister, driving the reason El Burrito has 10 toy Mini Coopers:

The next day, I helped out with her graduation errands and we did some grocery shopping. Florida is miserably hot and humid in June, let me tell you. And the houses down there aren't built to hold the AC in. I was sleeping upstairs, and even with the AC and a ceiling fan, it never got cool enough to really sleep. Blah.

Graduation was Saturday. It's a small school and a very small class. My pictures outside were horribly overexposed:

We partied after graduation, although the graduates were mostly not in a party mood, and there was some drama. I also discovered that I don't like mai tais, mojitos, or cosmopolitans. No surprise there, by Sister can't seem to keep from trying to change people.

On Sunday, we drove over to Titusville and Kennedy Space Center, which was one of my Holy Grails. More on that later, because I took pictures of everything.

Monday, it was back to the airport and home. On the way through town, we saw these markers - one of the local schools has a scale model of the solar system.

These three are Venus, Earth, and Mars. We were driving too fast to see their interpretation of Pluto's demotion.

(1) My sister got a graduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. I'm skeptical about the whole thing, but if that's what she wants to do, and she thinks she can make a living at it, I'm fine with that.

Garden pictures

Bizarre June-blooming Christmas cactus. So much for the "requirement" of cool temps and a minimum amount of darkness for mine to bloom. Both the white and pink/fuchsia ones bloomed this summer. I think they're a bit confused.

Dwarf pumpkin seedlings, sometime in June.

Daylily season. I love Hemerocallis, and plan to have a ton of them when we get a house. They're my kind of plant - easy to grow, almost impossible to kill. These pics are all of "feral" lilies along the road. The middle pic is of a large patch of lilies along a local interstate. The lilies cover at least 50 yards, probably more, in the median of a 4-lane interstate. Anything that can live in spite of the snowplows, winter chemicals and salt, and the run-off rubber/oil/water mix the rest of the year should grow well in my yard.

Monday, July 19, 2010


The July report.

The actual "garden" plants (dwarf bell peppers, dwarf pumpkins, and sunflowers) aren't doing well. Not enough sunlight, probably not enough dirt. The perils of container gardening in a covered porch. LOL I moved everything out to the back deck, where there's a bit more sun (not much, thanks to Bud the lovely pin oak). Nothing's eaten them yet, but they're still not growing a lot.

As far as the houseplants and flowers, things are slightly better. The oxalis are doing well, and one of the pots of purple oxalis that I'd given up on has started showing some life again. The Christmas cacti bloomed (crazy little buggers) in June. The Mother's Day impatiens basket is still alive and blooming, and so are most of the bedding/container plants I got for Mother's Day.

HyVee has their garden center on clearance. I went with Mom to find her some petunias, and we left with petunias (99c a quart) plus about 30 daylilies, mostly for $1 each. I got a gallon iris (3.33), 2 gallon daylilies ($3.33), and 4 small daylilies ($1 each). Then, of course, there was a trip to Westlake's for a big flowerpot and some dirt. And after potting everything on Sunday morning, I had room for another gallon plant. It was that or buy another bag of potting soil. So on our weekend HyVee run, I ended up with another gallon daylily and two quart ones. Hopefully they'll all survive until next spring or we find a house, whichever comes first.

Also, we stopped in at the Hemerocallis Society's daylily show at the library last weekend, and they were giving away bare-root plants from some of the members' yards. We came home with a small canteloupe-colored plant, which is now living in the big pot with the clearance lily from HyVee's sale last year. (It actually bloomed this year. I left it on the porch until it started to freeze, then put it indoors, in the coolest corner I could find, and hoped all winter that it wouldn't get confused. I should keep it away from those confused Christmas cacti, they'd be a bad influence.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kids Day

El Burrito had a blast today. Our local PBS station does something called Kids Day every year - free admission, they bring a couple of celebrities (Clifford, Grover, and Curious George this year), and local groups or stores can come and have a booth to hand out freebies or whatever. We ended up with a scheduling conflict, so DH and I had to leave after half an hour, but my mom drove up and spent the afternoon with hi m. Apparently they stayed until the end, and had a great time. I was a little worried, El B cried when we left him standing in line to see Grover, but I guess he perked up after we left. He's smiling in his pictures anyway.

El B got to meet Clifford (twice), Grover, and Curious George, but not Miss Rosa (the local hostess for the PBS Kids shows). He came home with a ton of stuff, too.

  • his very own wooden toolbox, which he made himself (with help), courtesy of Home Depot
  • orange workshop apron (ditto)
  • stickers - I stopped counting at 15. Clifford, Sid the Science Kid, etc
  • Frisbee from the Little Gym
  • purple coneflower seeds from the city's composting department
  • 3 cards that he ink-stamped for us
  • bookmarks - at least 4
  • two temporary tattoos
  • a boat made with a paper plate and a paper sail
  • pirate hat from a folded comics section
  • two free books (thanks to Scholastic and Clifford)
  • one apple
  • one sucker
  • one piece of candy from Sylvan Learning (I didn't sign him up to win 30 hours of free tutoring, guaranteed to raise him a grade level. He's four.)
  • four uninflated balloons (he wanted the Thomas the Train foil balloons)
  • two bottles of sunscreen on carabiners
  • a pencil with rubber duckies on it
  • a rubber duckie eraser/pencil topper
  • a Sid the Science kid eraser
  • a little WordWorld story
  • Sesame Street "Talking Cents" magazine
  • three Happy Pet coloring books
  • a handful of coloring/activity pages
  • a park brochure about bats and how to build a cave diorama
  • a free french fries coupon from McD's
  • 10 free tokens at Chuck E Cheese (where we don't ever plan on going)
  • assorted bits and pieces of paper
  • a nice paper-towel painting he did for me - something about spraying food coloring on a piece of saran wrap and putting the towel on it
  • a watermelon seed in a little pot
I think that's it. Lots of organizations had booths set up - the local Stream Team, public radio station, the recycling section of the city's public waste department, Scholastic, Usborne books. Those are just the ones I remember, and we weren't there long enough to see 10% of it before we had to leave.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fun day at the library

Today was the first storytime of the summer, so we (meaning El Burrito, our lovely night owl) had to start getting up in time to get to the library on time. Today's theme was Pirates, with El Burrito's favorite librarian, Miss Chris, and Miss Angela. Fun time - he even sat up front for the stories, although he migrated back to me for the songs. He's weird about loud noises.

Played for a while, including chasing a couple of kids around trying to get them to look at his (invisible) car. They were confused when he said his name was Bob the Builder. I got to read a whole People, and the cover of Time, before we went hunting Bob the Builder books. And of course he had to climb the stairs up to the third floor before the book sale started.

He totally scored some deals at the sale - best find was the Complete Adventures of Curious George, paperback, for $2. In great condition, other than a faded spine, too. A hardback picture book about fossils, a hardback book of nursery rhymes with Pooh as the main character, a small I Spy book, and another Pooh story. I got a 50-cent copy of Little Women, in hardback, and four ex-library novels (2 mystery, 2 fantasy) for 25-cents each.

El Burrito also finagled himself a muffin from the cafe/kiosk in the lobby. Yes, I gave in - he was whining, and I had a splitting headache. Give him one "library snack" and he wants one every time now. Sigh.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A quote

And for a moment, as she sat there with her friend, with the late-afternoon sun slanting in through the window, she thought about how she owed her father so much. He had taught her almost everything she knew about how to lead a good life, and the lessons she had learned from him were as fresh today as they ever had been. Do not complain about your life. Do not blame others for things that you have brought upon yourself. Be content with who you are and where you are, and do whatever you can do to bring others such contentment, and joy, and understanding that you have managed to find yourself.

She closed her eyes. You can do that in the company of an old friend -- you can close your eyes an d think of the land that gave you life and breath, and of all the reasons why you are glad that you are there, with the people you know, with the people you love.

(Alexander McCall Smith - The Double Comfort Safari Club, p. 211.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

House Hunting (still)

I'm starting to hate house-hunting. El Burrito just turned four, and we still don't have a non-family babysitter lined up, so any house visits mean adding an hour beforehand for dropping off, and another hour after for picking up from Grandma's house. Blah.

We made an offer on one house, but they're underwater on the loan and still want what they paid for the house 3 years ago, when the housing market peaked. I suspect they had an interest-only loan or something scary like that, but who knows. We couldn't agree on a price, so it's off the table unless they drop the price again.

We've looked at, I think, 15 houses in the past week. One got marked off the list - serious water issues, they were replacing carpet and regrading the lot on the day we were going to look. That's enough to get them dropped from the possibles list.

Went to look at a house yesterday. In a nice planned development - mixed residential and business, which I like, but there were problems. First, little to no yard space, and what was there, wasn't fence-able because of the driveway location. Second, planned development = HOA and restrictions. There was a copy of the regulations & restrictions available; I stopped after reading the (short) list of approved trees, the single maker of approved mailboxes, and the shrub requirements (14 per lot - 2 5-gallon, 4 2-gallon, 8 1-gallon, all in mulch-beds). It went on for another few dozen pages - restrictions on what you can make raised beds and garden fences out of, sidewalk materials, paint colors, etc.

The house looked lovely in the pictures, and when we drove by. Nice wrap-around porch, screen deck, windows, dormers. Sigh. Turned out that the porch was maybe 3 feet deep all around - more of a covered sidewalk than a porch. No room for someone to walk past if you're sitting on the porch.

I think it's probably not at the top of the list. We need a yard.

Right now, the best option is one we looked at last week. Nice big house, 5 bedrooms (2 master suites - one on the top floor, one in the basement), split level decks, retractable awning. It does have a smallish fenced yard, which is all sloped, and not a little bit of slope, either. But it gets enough sunlight that grass will grow there. It's a tall house, though - two flights of stairs to the upper floor. If we lived there, I'd have leg muscles. :) It also has an open cathedral ceiling in the living room - the light fixtures are maybe 20 feet up. Be a bitch to change the bulbs there. The tall wall is all wood paneling, which looks pretty nice.

The yard is my big sticking point, and all the stairs. But it would probably do for a 3 or 4 years, until we could find ground and build our own.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I seem to be on a puppet kick. It's partly due to El Burrito's upcoming birthday - he's asked for a puppet or two, and likes to play with the library's puppet collection. I've managed to come up with three so far, a dog, an elephant, and a Tweety bird. Paid 50 cents each for them - one at a yard sale, the others at Goodwill this week.

The dog originally had a barker attachment, so that he'd bark every time his mouth moved. I took care of that easily enough; it wasn't sewn in well at all. I spent half an hour htis morning sewing his mouth back together and re-stuffing his head, since I had to de-stuff him in order to flip him inside out and de-bark him.

And now it occurred to me (last night) to search Ravelry for crocheted puppet patterns. It's a slippery slope, but fun. I've found one that looks almost exactly like Kermit, a sock monkey, a really neat (but not free) parrot, and some others. Then I went looking for amigurumi. The slope got steeper - a whale (chart only, and the notes are in Japanese), horses, moose, penguins.

And do you know the kicker in all this? 95% of my yarn is unreachable. I can find two skeins of brown, one bright red, and one green/blue variegated right now. And none of it would work well for the patterns I've found. Makes the no-new-yarn ban kind of problematic.

Friday, May 7, 2010

More annoying fluff

Related to yesterday's post - today I read a local women's (woman's?) magazine, a freebie that you can pick up around town. The first page was an ad for a local place that does HCG weight loss, written to look like an editor's page or article, claiming weight losses of 8-13 pounds per week. It was marked "advertisement" at the bottom, but at first glance, you'd get the impression that it was an article.

I can't explain exactly why, but it offended me. Maybe because I'd like to lose weight, but hormone injections probably aren't the way to go, even if it doesn't scream "scam" to me. Because you know, the 500-calories-per-day diet is probably behind most of the weight loss, and that's just not healthy. Plus the recommended exercise, and - at least for some people - other meds like Phentermine (anyone remember the Fen-Phen mess?). Not to mention that I'd be starving and cranky on that kind of diet.

Or maybe all the defenders are right, and I'm an idiot for not signing up myself.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


For the record, OK magazine seems to be the fluffiest thing I've ever read. I finished the first issue (free subscription - SO glad I'm not paying for this stuff) in 20 minutes or so. And the hypocrisy, sheesh. Jennifer Aniston "lost 7 pounds in 7 days" but "her body is her temple" and she takes "her physical health seriously." Yeah, which totally contradicts every study that says losing weight that fast is generally not a good idea. (Okay, people with massive amounts to lose may be able to average 7 pounds/week at some points, but a person as already-thin as J Aniston doesn't have that much to lose in the first place.

Also (from the Gifts Mom will Love! article) - if anyone in my family blew $98 plus shipping for 9 bars of soap, I'd pass out from shock. And on awakening, would have to ask them what the everloving crumbs they were thinking?? Ditto for the $48 candles and $285 diary (probably 1-year, non-refillable). Oy. Seriously, $10 a bar for soap?!?!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Easter bargains

The post-Easter bargain hunting haul from a couple weeks ago:

Hy-Vee's post-Easter clearance (my best score):
  • 1 large bag jelly beans - 50c
  • 2 small bags jelly beans - 25c each
  • 3 marshmallow bunnies - 25c each
  • 4 boxes of Peeps (one not shown - I ate it!) - 25c each
  • 3 cartons of Whoppers - 25c each
  • 2 cartons Reese's eggs - 25 c each
  • Snickers egg - 25c
Hy-Vee doesn't show the original price on the tags or receipts. I do know the Whoppers were $1 each regular price, the Reese's were probably the same, and 99c seems to be the standard price for the small Peeps boxes. I'm pretty sure all this was at least 75% off.

I almost forgot the best deals from Hy-Vee: their clearanced books. I got two hardcovers:
  • Mr. Monk in Outer Space - $1.25, list price 29.95
  • Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon - $1.75, list price 27.95
They were 75% off the Hy-Vee price, which makes them more than 90% off.

Target clearance:
  • Puzzle - 30% off, originally 3.99, I think
  • Cars toy keychain with sound effects - $2.81, regular $3.99

  • Walmart Clearance - Easter was 50% off, I think. Most had no original price marked.
    • Inkjet iron-on paper - $7.00, no original price listed
    • Inkjet iron-on paper for cotton - $2.50, no original price listed
    • Cars mini set - $3.00, no original price listed
    • Peeps - 49c each, original price 98c
    • Paas set - 36c, originally 1.44
    • Egg cup dye sets - 47c, originally 1.88
    • bag of Reese's cups - $1.50, originally $3.00
    • Egg full of Reese's eggs - $1.75, originally $3.50

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Some days, I find the lightbulb

Today's little lightbulb moment:

I want to record PBS' broadcast of Hamlet (with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart) this week, so I need to set the machine. Which means finding enough recording space.

Side note: we've got a Panasonic combo DVR/VCR that uses blank DVDs. Including DVD-RAM discs, which are killer awesome, since you can keep part of a recording instead of the all or nothing Tivo capabilities. I LOVE that option.

So, I planned to watch part of the Olympics closing ceremonies that I recorded, then delete most of that and free up some space. (I may keep the opening bit with the mime and the malfunctioning torch, even though having Red Green do it would have been funnier.) Got up this morning intending to do t his before El Burrito woke up.

Hit the power on the TV and DVR, and the DVR is having issues. Claims it's recording something - which turned out to be In Plain Sight from 8 hours ago and probably isn't really recorded - and wouldn't power down or stop this so-called recording. No problem, I say. I know where the Reset button is. That led to an Error code (F03, for the record), and of course I can't find the lousy manual. Sure, I can download the manual online, but it's a 3-hour download. Joy.

A little more Googling - complicated by the stupid *&*&%^ Google redirect virus thing that I can't get rid of - led to one comment about someone getting this error and finding a toothbrush in the VCR compartment.

Hmmm, I said, and went to find the flashlight. Yep, there it was - a crumpled coupon, stuck in the VCR door by someone who shall remain nameless.

The trick was getting it out. My hand wasn't long enough, and I managed to nudge it farther in. Ditto for chopsticks, although I came close, and if I was chopstick-literate, probably could have done it. Turning the DVR sideways and letting gravity help wouldn't work without unplugging everything, thus upsetting Mr. Drama Queen, who was still upset about wearing a short-sleeved shirt!! With a tag!!!! And having to take his pink medicine!!!!!!!

Lightbulb brainstorm MacGyver moment: I found a piece of square wood dowel and some tape. Made sure to put one layer of tape sticky-side-in, because losing tape inside the machine would just make things worse. And the sticky-side-out layer worked like a charm.

One more round of Reset button, and we seem to be back on track.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More house hunting

We just put in an offer on our plan-B house. It's lower than the asking price, so we'll see what their counteroffer is.

It's a nice house, very big. The yard is fenced already, but not as big as I'd like. There is room for a small garden, and play space for El Burrito. Bonus: it's not far from where we are now, so commute times won't change much.

How small is the yard? A decent size, but small enough that I may really consider a reel-type mower. If not, then a push-mower, because it's not big enough to justify any kind of riding mower.

Oy. The down payment check will probably make me a bit nauseous, but then I was a tiny bit shaky when I paid the down payment on my car (a very small car, $3,000 down).

Monday, April 26, 2010

House Hunting update


After viewing 10 homes in 8 hours (with about 150 miles total driving), we've moved to Plan B - find something in town that will be adequate for 1-2 years (*), until we can find some ground and have a house built.

(*) Give our motivation levels, I won't be surprised if 1-2 years turns into 5 or so. Hell, we started house-hunting about 8 years ago, intending to be in a house before we had any kids. Uh huh. El Burrito is going to be 4 pretty soon.

We'd planned to park El B at Grandma & Grandpa's house over this past weekend, while we looked at homes. So of course, El B spent Friday puking (all over me!), and we didn't think he or his grandparents needed the hassle. I stayed home with Mr No Longer Throwing Up, and DH went with the realtor to look at 10 or so houses. In a drenching downpour most of the day - which demonstrated drainage/gutter issues at one house, and meant that another house wasn't viewable because of road/water problems.

Three of those made the short-list, so we're both going for another look this week, plus a visit with the mortgage people.

And on top of that, El B is still under the weather (although thankfully no longer vomiting), and the HVAC checkup on Friday revealed that our AC's issue earlier this month was a severe lack of freon. They came back today and took care of things, and wonder of wonders, it was all covered by the warranty. Yay!

By this time next week, we may have a house under contract. Our mortgage right now is seriously low, so the new mortgage could be 3x to 4x of the current one. I may get a little nauseous when I write the mortgage checks for a while.


I actually cooked dinner Sunday night. Shock, shock. Cooking lately has been iffy - DH is on Byetta for his diabetes, which has done some strange (and crummy) things to his appetite. Things he used to love, he now can't choke down. The chicken fingers that El Burrito loves, make DH nauseous. And sometimes, it seems like most of what I can cook also makes him green around the gills. I'm hoping that after we move (see future post), we'll get a treadmill, he can drop some weight again, and maybe, hopefully, the Byetta can either be decreased or dropped altogether.

So, my cooking. It was a serendipitous thing - I went to the library and grocery shopping, since El Burrito has been sick since Friday. At the library, I picked up some books I had on hold, and one happened to be the America's Test Kitchen Best 30-Minute Meals cookbook. I looked through it after I got home, and found a recipe for Pineapple-glazed Chicken that seemed (a) pretty simple and (b) didn't turn DH green. And, we had almost all of the ingredients (we have no cayenne, and no cider vinegar).

So, I went for it. And other than flunking out on reading comprehension and starting off with a lidless skillet, it came out pretty good. Next time, I'm adding more pineapple juice, though - the glaze was kind of skimpy, especially since the recipe was for 4 people and I only cooked 2 chicken breasts. With four, the glaze would have been almost non-existent. Another surprise - it didn't take me much longer than the 30 minutes they estimated, if you don't count waiting for the slightly-freezer burnt chicken to thaw.

I served it up with a box of Uncle Ben's wild rice, plus the leftover sides from the macaroni takeout meal I got at Hyvee to tempt El Burrito into eating (which didn't really work).

I've gotta say, I love the America's Test Kitchen cookbooks. I may have to hunt down copies, or use some of my Amazon certificates to buy some. Their explanations are interesting, educational, and helpful. (Alton Brown's Good Eats is the same way - I like to know the whys behind the methods.) Plus, Christopher Kimball, the host of ATC, rides horses, which gets him bonus points with me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Alive!!

I was evicting the houseplant jungle today (off to a summer on the porch) and saw this:

One of my purple oxalis (shamrocks) is still alive! Sure, only one sprig so far, but I expect more to show up, especially after some regular watering and a shot of fertilizer. I'd given up on them, there are two pots of them and both have been dormant for months now. I bought the bulbs/corms online about two years ago, when I couldn't find the purple form at a decent (to me) price around St. Patrick's Day. They looked so-so for a while, then went dormant, as oxalis do, but stayed that way longer than my green oxalis.

And then this year, Hy-Vee had 4-inch pots of purple oxalis for $5. I restrained myself and only bought two. They tend to multiply well, so I'll be able to divide the Hy-Vee pots in a year or two. I believe I started out wtih two pots of green oxalis (from Ace Hardware's post-St. Pat's sale), and I think I'm up to four now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gardening - Better late than never

I finally got some seeds started today: Sunflowers, sweet pepper mix, ornamental peppers, shamrocks (trifolium, not oxalis), 4-o-clocks, and catnip. Plus, my purple oxalis shamrocks are in real pots now.

And in my sort-of-garden outside are a six-pack of marigolds, plus a pack of marigold seed, the rest of the 4-o-clock pack, and most of a pack of portulaca from 2005. We'll see what - if anything - comes up. The portulaca all ended up in the same spot, so I raked it to stir things up. Not sure anything got planted at the right depth, but oh well.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yard sale loot

I managed to go to two big yard sales last weekend, both fundraisers - one Habitat for Humanity, one for a local school. I like it - one stop shopping, lots of parking.

For a whopping $25.85 total, I got:

  • one yellow Japanese Iris start
  • large plastic flowerpot
  • gallon Ziploc with 4 spools of crochet thread
  • 2 Nestle Tollhouse tins, one round, one square, for 75c. Saw 2 similar ones at a thrift store today, priced at $10 each.
  • dinosaur tray-puzzle
  • large 1000-piece puzzle, not sure if it's all there
  • red, white, and blue Beanie horse
  • a 10,000 Maniacs CD for DH that he doesn't have already ($1.00)
  • 2 Johnny Carson DVDs, $3 each (I think their prices are a bit high)
  • a like-new hardcover copy of Tolkien's Sigurd and Gudrun, although it's a book-club edition, for $1
  • assorted other paperbacks, including an Asimov that I didn't have already
  • Sesame Street English/Spanish memory card game, with all the cards
  • Disney Scene It game, mostly complete
  • Pooh memory card game
  • stuffed penguin puppet (sort of - the hole goes from the feet up through the back, not sure what it really was, but now it's a puppet)
  • 6 Viewmaster reels
  • 9 books
  • 3 coloring books
  • 1 pair of DisneyStore Incredibles pajamas
  • a few magazines
  • one country music VHS
and I think that's it. Not as good as finding the Puzz3D Titanic for $2, but still pretty good finds.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Allergies suck. 'Nuf said.

I'm taking generic Zyrtec, plus Target's form of Nephcon-A or some such, just to keep from scratching my eyes out. We turned the AC on tonight - 80 degrees inside, lovely temps outside but I can't bring myself to open the doors and let some more pollen or whatever it is come in the house.

I really hope this blows over (literally) in another week or so. Everything's blooming outside, and I can't go out to enjoy it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Strange associations

I'm way way behind on Lost, but no matter how often I saw Keamy being wicked on the Island, I always said"Hey, it's Zippy!!" every time Kevin Durand's face popped up on-screen.

Yes, I'm a bit of a Stargate geek. Zippy was Jack's nickname for the Goa'uld Lord Zipacna, named for a Mayan god.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The house-hunting marathon

We started house-hunting over the weekend. Packed El Burrito off for a day with Grandma & Grandpa, and met the Realtor for a 10-house 8-hour marathon. And this wasn't the usual day with five houses on one street or anything. These were rural places - we probably put at least 100 miles of driving in.

We saw some nice houses with lousy location, nice locations with lousy houses, and nothing that said "Buy me NOW" (unfortunately). A few "What were they thinking??" moments out there. Who puts the second-floor stairway exiting into the garage? Who really thinks that an acre of wooded pasture is sufficient ground to keep a horse? Why spend a load of money upgrading a recently-upgraded kitchen, in a house you're selling (because you're having money problems)? And who puts a beer tap in their kitchen?

Apparently the latest fads are jetted tubs and those quotations/phrases painted or decal-ed onto the walls.

Friday, March 26, 2010

House Hunting 2010

We're going with a Realtor (Blogger's spell-check insists on the capitalized R) this week to look at houses. Haven't done this in 5+ years. We've got ten on the list of possibles for the first trip, but they're spread out quite a bit (all out of town) so I'm not sure we'll make all ten.

And now I need to start thinking about packing, decluttering, and making a list of what we'll need to buy ASAP after we move. Like some furniture (ours is minimal, old, and decrepit) and a kitchen/dining table. And a hammock. And a freezer.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm rare

If this survey/poll in American Baby is close to accurate, I'm one of the 10% of people who didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl before it was born.

This proves it, I'm special. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I got quite a bit of crocheting done last month and this past week, mostly during the Olympics.


The "Curling Scarf" (because I watched a good bit of curling while I worked on it):

Done in Naturally Caron's Country, a mohair/microdenier acrylic blend, in two shades of purple plus off-white. The pattern is the Stripes and Bars No Weaving Ends scarf from Haven't decided yet if I want to leave the fringe as-is, add more, or weave it in. I blocked it once, but it was a half-baked job and needs to be redone to get rid of the curl at the corners. And of course, now that it's finished, temps are in the 50s and I don't need it.

Then my mom and one of her sisters came to visit, and Auntie wants a hat like El Burrito's. Her breast cancer is back, and has spread all over (jaw, shoulder, etc.) and she wanted a nice soft hat to wear. I used Red Heart Soft in Toast and Paprika (love the names!). I tried something new - I made center-pull balls out of the skeins, then put each ball in one half of a pair of super-cheap knee-high panty hose to keep the outer layers from unwinding (had that issue with the Caron). It worked pretty well, and only cost 50 cents.

I used the earflap hat pattern from the 2008 Pattern-a-Day calendar; it's turning into my go-to earflap hat pattern. Here's the finished hat, modeled by El Burrito:

and by El Burrito's newest pet (El Burrito seems to be on strike as a hat model):

The colors looked really well; the Toast isn't as olive-green as this picture looks on my screen.

Next up: possibly a Scandinavian Hat for me, done in purples; or the Gaelic Bay Afghan in Lion's Fishermen's Wool; or a hat for my mom; or lots of dishcloths to use up this pile of Lily Sugar 'n' Cream that seems to have bred in the closet.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Something for the To-Do list

To do: I need to look at my online inventory at and Amazon Marketplace, and rethink whether some of the lower-priced books are worth it.

Just sold a paperback at Amazon. Selling price was $3.50, and after Amazon's commission (higher than Half, admittedly), postage, and the mailer, I made a whopping $1.34.

Friday, February 26, 2010

More crocheting

Olympic update: the Scandinavian hat is done (I think*), and I'm 80% done with the scarf. Then I'm starting a hat for an aunt who's having a recurrence of breast cancer. She was admiring El Burrito's earflap hats and wants one of her own, so I'm shooting to have it done by the end of next week. The scarf may be done tonight, depending on how exciting the curling matches are. :)

* I think I finished it before I sent it off. I may have forgotten to seam the inside lining of the hat, but I'll have to wait to find out. Oopsie.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic crocheting

I didn't manage to get organized in time to sign up for any crocheting Olympics, but I have done some.

The Scandinavian Hat #1 is finished. It was my first hat that wasn't worked in rounds, and came out fairly well. I did have issues with the cross-stitching done for decoration, since I had to drop some rows because I couldn't make gauge for love or money. The X design on the brim came out a bit off, since there was a different number of stitches than the pattern needed.

Then I started what will probably be called the Curling Scarf, since that's 95% of what we've watched this Olympics. It's a pattern from, done in long rows with fringe (so no weaving-in). I'm using Naturally Caron's Country, a merino/acrylic blend, in two shades of purple, plus a winter white. This is my first shot at treble/triple crochet and spike/long stitches.